Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fated by Benedict Jacka

I'm going to be quite honest and state right from the outset that I did not like Benedict Jacka's Fated.

I thought I would, it had been described as a Harry Dresden meets London type book and it even had a blurb from Harry Dresden's creator Jim Butcher on the front cover, who very rarely does cover recommendations.

There's a fine line between inspired by and shamelessly derivative and Jacka very definitely crossed it with Alex Verus. Unfortunately the similarities end about there. Harry Dresden is a snarkily funny narrator who litters his dialog and descriptions with dead on the money pop culture references. Alex Verus tries, but doesn't get there.

I like Harry, I really feel for him. I didn't like Alex, I was barracking for the bad guys in this one. They were far more interesting and sympathetic than the book's obnoxious emo protagonist.

I think there was a plot in there somewhere, but it was very convoluted and confusing and regularly broken up by Alex's need to explain everything in detail. There was an awful lot of tell and not very much show, especially early on.

The author was trying quite hard and to me that showed, it made the story rather stilted and the dialog didn't have the ring of someone having a conversation, more like it had been all scripted out for them and they were reading from it, like actors in a film.

There was one really good and very cool character; the scatterbrained air elemental Starbreeze. Her, I liked. If the next book was about her, I may be persuaded to give it a look, otherwise I think I'll leave Alex Verus in his book store in Camden, where I found him.

If you do however want a genuinely enjoyable urban fantasy that uses London as it's backdrop you can't go past Ben Aaronovitch's Folly books.

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